In September of 2014 I, through kindness and good fortune, inherited upwards of 24 arcade machines, all in various states of disrepair. I set about learning everything I could about arcades; the history, the industry, and especially the games themselves. My experience with arcades was superficial until this point. Growing up my dad would take my sister, brother and I to the arcade, and there was nothing I loved more than to sink quarters into those machines that I barely understood. Now I’m finally inside the games, and the more I learn the more I uncover. I’ve managed to fix under half of the games with the help of a huge network of enthusiasts, as well as an extensive amount of knowledge that exists online.
It’s not difficult to relate to the love of the arcade. The attraction spans generations, crosses oceans, and built legacies. The arcade paved the way for console gaming, in fact some of the first home gaming systems were essentially cabinets themselves (Red Tent). I’ve always loved arcades, from my first START to the present. But my experience with playing in arcades slowed down as I grew older, and by the time I was in college I was only seeing games in pizza joints, never in dedicated Arcades.
That was, until I studied abroad in 2011. While getting my BFA at the University of Memphis I took a semester overseas and studied in Nagoya, Japan. I spent my time learning Japanese, experiencing the city, and country, making friends, and discovering that arcades still existed! Nooks, rooms, floors and whole buildings dedicated solely to machines that played one game, and they played it well. I was stunned that the love for arcade had never died, it was so drastic compared to America.
It’s hard to really pinpoint what ‘killed the cade’ here in America, and it’s easy to throw blame at the industry, markets, and games that just weren’t up to standard. But instead of getting hung up on the past, I want to look towards the future. In order to find the best path I need to understand the present situation, and here we are.
Talking about arcades.
So what’s next? I’ve got some questions I’m trying to answer.
What factors influenced the growth of arcades in Japan, and what factors contributed to the decline of those in America?
Besides language and network, what reasons keep the Japanese arcade manufacturers from distributing to America?
Are there still developers creating new arcade games? By which I don’t mean MAME machines, but dedicated cabinets.
And so many more. I’ll try my best to find an answer, and to share as much of my knowledge as possible. So that everyone can continue to experience arcades for years to come.